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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

What we’ve learned two weeks into the year

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Just like that, we’re two weeks into the NFL season. It’s way too early to make any sweeping declarations about what we’ve seen, obviously, so let’s do just that by taking a look at the teams off to a fast start. Since 1990, almost two thirds of teams that start their year 2-0 make the playoffs.

  1. The Miami Dolphins started off the year in classy fashion by taking two on the road against the Chargers and division-rival Patriots. Head Coach Mike McDaniel might be the most interesting coach in the league and if you’re just looking for a fun team to cheer for in what may be a lost year for the Bears, can I interest you in Miami? Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio took over the defense this off-season and former Bears running back Raheem Mostert (I mean, technically true...) leads an explosive running game. And speed, speed, speed. This team is fun, fast, and forward-thinking in their innovative offensive approach. Verdict: Legit
  2. The Baltimore Ravens, after their preseason winning streak was snapped, have come out of the gates fast with wins over the Texans (yawn) and the division-rival Bengals in Cincinnati. The Bengals have not looked themselves in September but handing Who Dey Nation a second loss in the division is a big deal for a Ravens squad with aspirations of a deep playoff run. Lamar Jackson has looked efficient, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers on Sunday. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken, last seen in the NFL in Cleveland helping Baker Mayfield to his most successful season and Nick Chubb to a Pro Bowl season in 2019, is a fun personality to get back in our NFL lives. He should add in a little more creativity to this passing game, making Baltimore a true threat. Verdict: Legit
  3. The Dallas Cowboys officially own New Jersey by knocking out the New York Giants 40-0 in the opener and taking care of the Jets 30-10. The +60 point differential is almost halfway to their +125 from last year. In fact, +60 would’ve been the seventh best mark in the league after a full 17 games. In other words, it’s an absolutely blistering start for the Cowboys who look like they’re fielding the best defense in the league along with a good offense. This might finally be the year for the Cowboys to make that deep run. Can Dak put it all together? Verdict: Super Legit
  4. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles just keep on winning football games. The reigning NFC champions secured back to back victories against the Patriots and the Vikings. Both matchups the Eagles were clearly the better team on paper and they took care of business. We know the Eagles are good - they proved that to everyone last year with their Super Bowl run - but can they get back to the big game with a the third oldest roster by snap-weighted average? If you’re an Eagles fan, you have to worry about those older vets staying healthy. Verdict: Still Legit
  5. The Washington Commanders entered this season on a high note with the exit of former owner Dan Snyder. Everything else that happens this season is simply gravy so a 2-0 surprise start should feel fantastic for fans of the Washington Football Team. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy looks like he’s off to a great start with Sam Howell, who has impressed thus far. Again, anything good that happens this year is gravy and with two killers in the division, things are going to get a bit uncomfortable quickly here. They get the Bills next followed by a trip to Philly. Enjoy the high while it lasts. Verdict: I mean...Good for them
  6. The San Francisco 49ers put a hurting on the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening weekend with a 30-7 beatdown and followed it up with a hard fought victory over the surprisingly spry Rams, 30-23. The 49ers have a good chance of entering their Week 5 tilt with the Cowboys at 4-0 and should be able to take care of business in one of the weaker divisions. The 49ers have played in the conference championship three of the last four years. Kyle Shanahan is waiting for his Andy Reid breakthrough and with dynamic playmakers all over the roster and a weaker NFC, I wouldn’t count them out of making another run. Verdict: Still Legit
  7. The NFC South has three undefeated teams through the first two weeks. The New Orleans Saints were the preseason favorites in the division and have grinded out their first two victories in workman-like fashion. A one-point margin against the Titans and holding on for a three-point victory against the Panthers. Their offense has not been particularly impressive in either contest, but Derek Carr is still warming up to Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, and shrimp po’boys. The Saints are the oldest team by snap-weighted measure and perennially up against the cap. One of these years, you would think the Saints would pull back and take a gap year to reset their cap, but they saw an opportunity to compete while pushing the credit card bill to another year. Verdict: This Falls Apart Soon...Right?
  8. The upstart in the division is the Atlanta Falcons. The Dirty Birds knocked off the Panthers in Week 1 comfortably and barely escaped the Packers in Week 2. Head Coach Arthur Smith has a dynamic rushing attack with a somewhat boring passing game led by Desmond Ridder. It’s hard to understand how this passing game is so boring given the fact they have Drake London and Kyle Pitts. If Smith can figure out how to unlock his talented pass catchers, this team could be a lot of fun as a dark horse in the NFC. I haven’t seen enough out of Ridder to think this team could be a real factor in the playoffs, but they should be relevant in the division race all year. Verdict: Division Contender, Conference Pretender
  9. Most everyone wrote off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the departure of Tom Brady. There’s still plenty of good football players on this roster and Baker Mayfield has the ability to get hot. As good of a pitchman Mayfield can be, I’m not sold on his ability to take this team anywhere as he’s lacked consistency in his career. Still, established star receivers and talent sprinkled throughout the defense and this team should exceed the expectations of many entering the year. Verdict: Brady Who?
  10. The Chicago Bears might be in the midst of hitting rock bottom. Sure, they may rise from the ashes of the first two weeks of the season and give Bears fan an interesting 2023. For those of you that love football but might not love cheering for a Bears team potentially bottoming out, you could do worse than picking a team off to a hot start and cheering for them the rest of the season. For me, it’s always been easier grabbing an AFC squad I like when things get rough for the Bears. I’m rolling with the Dolphins because I’m all in on what Mike McDaniel is bringing to South Beach. However, the Ravens have proven to be a reliable contender and if you’re comfortable backing an NFC squad, I like the Falcons. I cannot in good conscience support cheering for the Eagles, Cowboys, or 49ers though. You will draw my ire if you go down that path. Verdict: Fins Up